Few people who work on the editorial side of the magazine business have to worry about much more than the irritation of dealing with PR people, outdated computer systems, and the ever-approaching deadlines. There is one small but prestigious section, however, in which every working moment threatens to be a nightmare, where appearance is even more important than ability, and contacts more vital than talent. They may be a tiny minority of journalists, but for those who work on glossy women’s magazines, this film promises to be every bit as cringe-making and difficult to watch through painful recognition as The Office was for the rest of us.
Apparently based on the offices of the American edition of Vogue, glossy magazine Runway is on the lookout for a new assistant to the dragon-like Editor-in-Chief. Requirements? Beauty, skinniness, and an innate sense of style and fashion displayed for all the world to see through the pristine array of top-of-the range clothing worn every day to the office. Which, of course, Hollywood starlet Anne Hathaway is the exact opposite of. Erm… Apart from the fact that she’s more often seen being photographed in a variety of ridiculously expensive gowns at awards ceremonies than she is on screen.
With a film based around the old ugly duckling story, you’d think they’d at least have made an effort to make their gorgeous leading lady look somewhat less stunning. Wearing a casual jacket and blouse may well be somewhat drab compared to Gaultier frocks, but no fashion writer worth their salt would do anything other than marvel at the perfect eyebrows, cheekbones and long, lush hair of such a wannabe employee the moment she wanders through the door, before swiftly declaring her the find of the season. Never mind glamming up to work at a fashion mag, this girl should quite blatantly be on the catwalk.
Thankfully, somehow they’ve managed to avoid making the film seem too similar to the Kate Hudson/Matthew McConnaughey romcom How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, in which Hudson played a prototype of Hathaway’s character here – a good looking journo on a glossy fashion mag desperate to be given the chance to write hard-hittting features, and prevented by an overbearing, looks-obsessed boss. Though the basic elements are the same, the romantic comedy angle has been excised, the humour instead being more the the situationist variety as Hathaway is forced to jump through hoop after superficial hoop in her quest to prove herself.
In other words, this could all have been incredibly unoriginal and tedious were it not for the winning performances at the heart of the film. Hathaway is as charming and likeable as ever and, proving her potential for the years to come, manages to hold her own against the mighty Meryl Streep, on deliciously melodramatic form as the boss from hell. The chemistry and spot-on interaction between the two rescues what could otherwise have been a dull and tedious affair, turning this into a fun little comedy that – just perhaps – even reluctant boyfriends dragged along for the ride may be able to enjoy.